News & Events

BBGH CEO Lori Mazanec outlines strategy to enhance primary care physician recruitment

As with many rural hospitals across the nation, the challenges of recruiting primary care physicians and mid-level providers to Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) are many. Those challenges range from competing with larger community hospitals for the relatively few medical students choosing to practice in primary care to work load and lifestyle preferences. CEO Lori Mazanec provided the BBGH Board of Trustees her vision for addressing those challenges, a vision she developed as part of her Master of Healthcare Administration Degree Program through Bellevue University.

In her research, she found several research articles supporting the following facts. “Being from a rural area is a major component to getting a physician to a rural area,” she said. One study showed that students who have intent to practice in a rural area are typically from a rural area originally, have a spouse or significant other from the area, or have parents that live in a rural area. Other articles show that while some new physicians wish to have a more recognizable relationship with patients (familiarity), others feel having personal relationships with patients are detrimental to a rural practice. “From this, understanding the preferences of individual providers is essential when recruiting,” Ms. Mazanec said.

Another important aspect of successful physician recruitment is recognizing the fact that new physicians are looking for less on-call and more free nights, weekends, and holidays. To meet those preferences, many hospitals, including ones in the Panhandle, are adopting Hospitalist programs, which eliminate primary care physicians needing to see inpatients. A Hospitalist is a physician whose only responsibility is treating or admitting patients in the Patient Care Unit. Ms. Mazanec proposed doing the same at BBGH. “There have been some recent improvements that have already impacted perceptions of the practice model and retention efforts,” she said. Those include: Adding two non-physician providers to the clinic; allowing the provider to choose their day off during the week and judgement for small blocks in schedules for personal appointments and conflicts; and implementing nighttime eHospitalist coverage with Bryan Telemedicine. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Ms. Mazanec said.

Obtaining Hospitalist support is the next logical step. She said the hospital would keep the nighttime eHospitalist program, which has been very successful. The hospital would use Bryan Telemedicine to develop the structure best suited for BBGH and the providers. BBGH would also make use of non-physician providers interested in inpatient management at BBGH. “Implementing a full Hospitalist model aligns us with multiple neighboring facilities, and will increase the current provider satisfaction by addressing their work-life balance concerns allowing for more downtime to spend with families,” she concluded. “We already have a marvelous facility, strong leadership presence and are moving forward with quality initiatives ... continual investment in human capital, and strong financial presence. Being able to offer an improved practice model at BBGH, and bringing in additional quality physicians will be added to the number of strengths already identified.”

The Trustees were very supportive of her presentation in their comments.

The Trustees also conducted the following business.

The Trustees recognized Alexa Minich, Laboratory Phlebotomist, as the February Employee of the Month. Also recognized was Marina Girard for becoming a Certified Medical Interpreter. New employees welcomed to the facility were: Carson Hadden, Cardio Rehab Nursing Assistant; Laura Nussbaum, Hospital Patient Registration; Natosha Beauchamp, Assistant Cook; Sara Schleicher and Marti Schleicher, Cooks; Ashly Lunbery, Nursing Assistant; and Lili Valdez, LPN.

The Board approved the consent calendar and then heard a report on the status of Region I Behavioral Health Services from Chief Quality Officer Mary Mockerman. Ms. Mockerman updated the Trustees about recent news articles over the Panhandle Health Group (PHG) Board voting to close PHG by June 30, 2018 due to financial constraints. She gave a history of PHG and Region I from 1964 to the present. Now that the decision has been made to close PHG, she said interlocal agreements must be terminated, with County Commissioners from the 11 counties using PHG needing to vote on terminating the agreements. She didn’t think any counties would vote to continue the agreements due to the fact that those counties who did would be responsible for operations and to provide services in all 11 counties. Region I is requesting BBGH to pursue youth services. Ms. Mockerman said the hospital is in dialogue to see what that would entail.

Ms. Mazanec informed the Trustees that the Hemingford land purchase has been completed. Talks regarding next steps toward a new Hemingford Clinic have begun, including building design, timing and feasibility.

Box Butte Health Foundation (BBHF) Director Brooke Shelmadine presented the Trustees with a report on a recent BBHF Board of Directors retreat and the resulting recommendations the retreat produced. Those recommendations include: A memorandum of understanding (MOU) that articulates and defines the relationship between BBHF and BBGH; conducting a policies and procedures audit; closing out major gift/capital campaign raising funds and develop momentum to implement fundraising programs; developing and implementing a robust planned giving program; developing an outreach, education, and awareness program; developing and implementing an institutional-wide stewardship program; and evaluating and amending if needed Foundation Board structure to best address the priorities identified.

After approving all credentialing requests, the Trustees entered executive session for a personnel update at 12:57 pm. They re-entered open session at 1:13pm and adjourned with no action taken. The next board meeting will be held Monday, March 26 at 12:00pm in the Alliance Room. As always, the public is invited to attend.

Box Butte General Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.